This is a river.

Plant cover on the waters of Río Lerma in Juanacatlán, Jalisico, MX.

I was born too late. I did not get to see it, but some still remember its glory. There was water, they say. Lots of it and the water was clear and clean. One could play, swim in it and even drink it without falling ill. And the fish, Oh man!… there used to be fish. Lots of fish: small and big of different kinds. Some people used to earn a living catching them. Others used to catch them for the visitors. People came, and they came from other parts of the country. They came from other countries, too. Everyone wanted to see the  waterfall. It was majestic. “Beautiful like no other.” And then…,

The industry came. It all changed.

When the river became a sewage system for nearby factories; the visitors never returned, the fishermen became factory workers and the fish began floating upside down on the surface of the water to be carried away by the current. I never got to see one.

In fact, the only thing my generation has experienced is the river’s putrid stench. To us it is not much of a river but a foul-smelling, mosquito-infested dump. We call it a river because we were told it is a river. There is not much water. No fish. No waterfall.

Sure! there is water falling off the cliff but it would be an insult to the memory of some to call it a waterfall. If you ask me: that liquid is not exactly water. It would take serious chemical research to know exactly what is in that liquid. It does fall but there is no grace or beauty. Only falls to form blocks of acidic, rotten-egg-smelling foam. Yet, I still call it a river like everyone else. But I am starting to think that we do it to avoid admitting we failed to stand up. It is intriguing how no one talks about it. Grandparents don’t mention it as if evading a painful memory. My generation easily blames politicians as we pretend to be conscious; as if  acknowledging the existence of political corruption was a social act. The younger generations?…. I don’t know. I guess they also call it a river.

Still water of Rio Lerma in Juanacatlán, Jalisco MX.
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